Christmas was very laid back this year, but I did find one small gift under the old tree. I got this very interesting dough rising basket called a brotform from Germany. After the first rise or proof you punch down the dough and place the ball in this well floured brotform for the final proofing. The dough rises around the brotform canes giving your bread a really cool design similar to a floury crop circle.
Today's mighty loaf is courtesy of my little pet, my sourdough starter. It's not too much work to keep a starter going but it does need attention about once a week. I just add a cup of flour and half a cup of warm britta water. I stir it up and check for bubbling action to ensure it's still alive. Next to my kombucha and fermenting sauerkraut crocks the sourdough jar is the best smelling of the bunch.
The bread recipe I used is the most basic sourdough recipe available from King Arthur Flour.
1 1/2 c Lukewarm water
5 1/2 c (to 6 1/2 cups) King Arthur
1 tb Sugar
1 tb Salt
1 tb (or packet) active dry yeast
1 tb Vegetable oil
1 c Sourdough starter
Combine all of the ingredients, using only 5 cups of the flour. I used a kitchen aid mixer with the dough hook attachment to knead this into a nice soft dough. I placed the dough in a greased bowl to rise for one hour. After an hour passed I punched the dough down and moved it to the brotform to rise for one more hour. Preheat the oven to 450f and bake for 20 min or until golden brown on a pizza stone.
The loaf had a nice crust and a very soft interior crumb. Normally I prefer to use only sourdough starter instead of the dry yeast/starter combo. Sure, the rise will take much longer but it produces a much stronger sour fermented flavored loaf.
Can't complain, this is my best looking and tasting loaf to date. Maybe I can pass my bread off as an artisan loaf now.
I was looking for a new pork recipe for my dad as he requested pork for Christmas eve this year. A friend of mine passed this recipe on to me courtesy of RealSimple.com.
In addition to their ingredients, I also shaved one fennel bulb to add to the mix. The pork cooked quickly and was quite moist upon peeking in the Le Creuset dutch oven. There was enough liquid on the bottom of the Creuset to make some really intense pear and fennel flavored gravy. The pork was topped with fennel frawns and a generous pinch of clementine zest.
Great anise & citrus flavors in this simple one pot dinner.
Over the past weekend, I was assigned the job of cooking for a pack of 10 hungry friends (to keep them nourished before a big holiday party) and was lucky enough to have a cooking partner who also shares my love of rocket/arugula. Making pesto is extremely simple and quick if you have a food processor. I usually just eyeball my ingredients to taste and consistency as I've made pesto far too many times at this point.
As a rough guide...
- 4 cups of packed arugula leaves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup (packed) freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
- 1/4 cup olive oil
It's quite safe to say that our plates were a smashing success as most people were looking for seconds and maybe even thirds. I think we provided enough energy to keep everyone going until 4 am so we could all sing in holiday cheer.
The next day: x2
So we had some left over arugula and made another batch the following night substituting toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts.
X2 was served with a Tuscan bread salad made with a nice crusty loaf of organic rustic Italian courtesy of Amy's in Chelsea Market. The main flavor component in this salad is the lemon garlic vinaigrette. We ran low on oil and the bread in the salad was slightly on the dry side but still tasty with tomatoes, onion and cucumber.
So much good food & good times.
I don't know if I would have the patience to be a baker. Waiting for the dough to rise is about as much fun as going to jury duty (t-minus seven hours). Baking also requires you to follow very precise instructions, something I don't always like do. That's why I enjoy the savory cooking side of the culinary field, it allows me to find a recipe and adjust it to my specific needs or ingredients. Either way I do really love bread, and I'm finding my self becoming more patient with baking so I'm going to go with it.
I just picked up a great book called Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille. Ultimate Bread is very straight forward, with great photography of each step involved. I've been meaning to try to make bagels for quite some time and their recipe is fast and easy.
Makes 8 Bagels
2 Tsp Dried yeast
1 1/2 Tbs sugar
500g white flour
1 1/2 Tsp Salt
1. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar into 100ml of the water in a bowl. Leave four 5 minutes and then stir to dissolve.
2. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl, make a well in a center of the flour and pour in the yeasted water.
3. Pour the remaining water, holding back about half, into the well. Mix in the flour and stir in the reserved water, as needed, to form a firm, moist dough.
4. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic for about 10 minutes. As you knead the dough, gradually work in as much additional flour as you can comfortably knead.
5. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning into coat and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
6. Knock back the dough, then leave to rest for 10 minutes.
7. Cut the dough into 8 equalized pieces.
8. Shape each piece into a bowl and form each bowl into a ring by inserting a floured finger into the center of each one. Work the finger in a circle to stretch and widen the hole. Then twirl the ring around the index finger of one hand and the thumb of the other hand until the hole is about a third of the bagel’s diameter.
9. Place the bagels on a lightly oiled baking sheet, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
10. Bring a large pan of water to the bowl, then reduce the heat to allow the water to simmer. Use a perforated skimmer to carefully lower the bagels into the water in batches of two or three at a time.
11. Transfer the drained to a lightly oiled baking sheet.
12. Beat one egg to wash each bagel for a nice shine. You can also sprinkle salt, poppy seeds etc onto the bagel at this point.
13. Bake at 220°C (425°F) for 20 minutes or until golden.
So what's the verdict? I made a batch 8 bagels in 2 hours total. I'm still in shock that these require such a quick rise of 1 hour. I also had a small cookie sheet in the oven loaded with ice to help "steam" the oven. The steam worked great, providing a super moist interior and a chewy exterior. Just like a good bagel should.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say stop at Hoboken Hot Bagels next time you're in Jersey. A total hole in the wall, no frills bagel joint on Hoboken's main drag. It's a great cheap breakfast after a night on the town.
I can assure you the rats got to nibble on this one after I chucked it off the balcony.
This was a promising breakfast of a simple baked egg & rosemary. The egg tasted great, and the complete package looked great. However I HIGHLY recommend never using 100% semolina flour when you're looking to achieve a nice, flaky, pastry consistency to hold your breakfast. The semolina flour produced a very grainy texture (obviously). If you've never used semolina flour before, the grain consistency is close corn meal.
I should have known better, but I had so much semolina flour I went with it.
October 1st marks the first day of the eat local challenge. It's day one and I am already chalking this years challenge up as an epic failure for me personally. Mainly the neighborhood supermarkets are slightly scary, and definitely are not even close to being on the organic bandwagon yet. I honestly do not want to know where most of the items are grown and I feel I may be better off not knowing. When your local super market is nicknamed the ASS-MART, I think it's safe to say market basket and Johnie food master would be a god send right now. Yeah there are plenty of green markets in the Brooklyn area, some I really do like. Regularly shopping at them just seems to get pricey faster than normal. I try to keep on it as there is a green market literally everyday of the week if you're looking for it. I think the key to healthy living and schooling the eat local challenge is clearly having a csa share or having your own garden. That should cover about 80% of what you need to eat leaving you only to search for proteins and grains. I miss my Parker farm share.
I loaded my fridge up with tempeh and tofu last time I made it to unholy foods. I've been eating less and trying to eat more vegetables and vegan things. Mainly after my last visit to the local mart smelled of cow urine, the already suspicious meat department was looking worse by the day.
This is my vegan super sloppy joe.
Note the package of sloppy joe mix. It's actually from Brockton Mass, I had to buy it, at 79 cents who could say no. The packaging looks as if it is from 1974. Surprisingly, there is nothing but spices listed in the ingredient list, it saved me from buying quite a few expensive spices.
So I browned one crumbled package of Soy Boy tempeh in olive oil. Added one diced Wheeler pepper, one can of tomato paste, 1 cup of water and Brockton's own sloppy joe spice pouch. This was topped on my purple cabbage apple slaw marinated in rice wine vinegar for a bit of a kick. all on top of a classy white bun.
The slaw completed the package & you will not miss the meat.
I'm not one to ever brag but, I make a better omelette than your favorite restaurant. After years of eating mediocre breakfasts', brunch's and bigfoot sized omelette's I had to put my foot down. It was time to take matters into my own hands. I'm not a fan of teflon pans but having one in your arsenal is almost essential for this cause.
The star this morning is the fresh Goat Rising cheese inside. Hailing from a super tiny family farm in Charlemont on the Mohawk trail, this goat cheese is honestly heavenly. It is so smooth, crisp and packed with great garlic flavor it is the perfect compliment to your favorite cracker OR even my new favorite omelette.
Prep before hand is easy, in a saute pan I fired up a bit of fresh picked kale, 1 pepper, garlic and snipped chives. Bring them to temp to soften them through just enough. Whisk two cracked eggs with a touch of milk. Pour into your pan and rotate to get the mixed egg to evenly distribute. When the edges start to crisp make a line down the middle with your kale mixture and liberally dollop your goat cheese. Use the pan to fold your omelette onto the plate. Garnish with fresh parsley, snipped chives bacon & slices of Asian pear.
A few of these were made for friends one morning in Western MA, one diner gasped "this is decadent," while slowly eating this omelette...
I was lucky enough to arrive back in Brooklyn after a weekend in the Pioneer Valley with a few extra bags thanks to "Wheeler Farm." One plentiful crop growing for the Wheelers this season was the leek. Their garden was beautiful this time of the year just full of leeks, cherry tomatoes and greens waiting to be picked. Some would suggest maybe even using a tractor to carry the harvest back to the barn. I arrived home with just about 10 pounds of leeks or one shopping bag bursting open.
Today actually marks the 3rd meal in a row that has paid homage to the mighty "Wheeler" leek, cousin of the ramp we love so. Luckily this one is very simple to prepare, it is adapted from a Bittman recipe that was in the New York Times not too long ago.
- medium high heat
- brown 1/4 pound of pancetta in olive oil
- wash and rinse two pounds of sliced leeks
- simmer till tender
- add 1 can of your favorite chickpeas
- salt and pepper to taste
I planned on serving this as the main course but sometimes hungry stomach's ache for more. So, along with this went some leftover pulled braised chicken which was stewed in leeks and cherry tomatoes.
The meal turned out great, the finished plate had an Indian-American fusion feel to it. The leeks were top notch and went really well with the smokiness from the pancetta.
I couldn't resist...
Northampton hid this tiny bakery from me for quite some time. On a friends recommendation we took a walk into town to buy our daily bread. The Hungry Ghost looks like it could have sold bread to King Richard the III in 1483. Ivy vines now completely cover the front of the small building, giving it an age old feel. Stepping inside you can literally feel the heat hit you, it must have been at least 100 degrees inside with each employee glistening. Two wood burning ovens bake the rotating sourdough starter bread selections.
My selection was the semolina fennel seed loaf. The smell alone of this loaf was purely intoxicating. We scurried back home anticipating ripping into this. I can not say that this is the best bread in the world because I have many, many, more loafs to try but, this is best bread I've had in my 28 years of existence here on this planet. Great flavor from the wood oven, slightly liquorice undertones from the fennel seed and a crust I can fully appreciate. The problem I find with most artisan breads is the crust is usually hard as a rock, you have to clamp down and really rip the bread from your mouth to get a bite. The Hungry Ghost has perfected the artisan crust, there is just enough bite for you to appreciate with out dislocating your jaw. We ate half of this loaf as is warm with out butter, and the other half with a bit of good cheese and salami (or your favorite charcuterie).
Another gold star for The Hungry Ghost. The Ghost is ENCOURAGING residents of the Pioneer Valley to grow wheat on their property for the bakery. At one time in history New England was the bread basket of the United States. The plan is to completely bypass middle America, bring down prices, and use only locally grown products.
Why not dig up a 10' x 10' patch of lawn for cause!
NPR has a great segment on this.
Click to listen!
So it started off as any other Sunday morning would. The weather was great, the air was starting to crisp with fall now upon us. This is prime bike riding weather, as it's still warm enough. Perfect for shorts and a long sleeve shirt. I have a certain loop I usually ride which is great for after work or before bed. I did the loop and was still roaring to go so I ended up biking to Dumbo in order to investigate a new market called Foragers Market. The New York Times ran an article mentioning that they are carrying a very limited supply of fresh New Mexico green chile's from Hatch. The market was nice with plenty of high end goods such as cheeses, salami's and imported goods. The green chile's are prominently on display as soon as you walk in the door. After visiting Hatch and seeing the chile's roasted first hand I couldn't get myself to plonk down the inflated price per pound that Foragers Market was asking.
Onward I go. Just down the street is the beautiful Brooklyn bridge park, this was my first time visiting this park, it has some great views of the Brooklyn bridge, the Manhattan skyline and the waterfalls. I truck on over the Brooklyn Bridge, I end up at the world trade site. I carry on through battery park and the Manhattan waterfront greenway. Finally deciding on going to the south street seaport to catch the awesome, free ikea ferry over to Red Hook to make my way back home. Not only do you get to enjoy a great 20 minute boat ride, you have spectacular views, you can bring your bike and it's free. I've hopped on this ferry quite a bit the summer just for the ride.
So it's the weekend, and I know the Red Hook food vendors are in full swing. I've been reading about this food mecca for months now, finally this is my chance to check this place out.
As I approach the Red Hook soccer fields I hear music playing in the distance. Soccer matches are in full swing with more spectators than the New England Revolution will ever have. Surrounding the fields are around 10 to 15 food vendors all hawking a taste of South America. The best way to describe the scene here is a massive block party with live bands playing and so many people running around I could barely get situated.
After walking between all the vendors I decided on pupusa's, mainly because the line was the longest. Obviously pupusa's from this truck were the most popular item of the day. I've tried pupusa's once before and thought they were quite bland. Maybe the mesa to filling ratio was off but these were spot on. The plate consisted of one pork & cheese, one bean & cheese, pickled jalapenos, and curtido. Curtido is a pickled cabbage Salvadorian side dish, with just enough bite but pretty far off from sauerkraut. This was just great, so much flavor, the pupusa's had a nice char with great fillings, the whole atmosphere of the day was really something else.
I had some serious cramps biking back, I ate way too much.
Check out Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern feasting in Red Hook.
I am more than thrilled to boast that I was able to make it to my wild Concord grape vines this year. The bounty unfortunately was not quite as plentiful as last year. I was working with a very small time frame and I knew the picking was going to be hit miss.
According to my bathroom scale I ended up with a nice 5 pound sack of grapes. The majority of the vines I've grown to love were actually quite barren this year. I'm not sure if this is in regards to weather/rain cycles or if I maybe just missed the peak picking time. Either way grapes are grapes, I'm not complaining.
I'll spare you the details as I posted grape jam instructions last year. I always reference Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving, the book is very easy to follow, it's an essential read for anyone who really wants to take home preserving to the next step. For the wild grape jam all you need are some canning jars, a box of pectin, sugar, water, grapes of your choice and some patience. I ended up with 17 jars in total from 5 pounds of fruit. This is THE most flavorful grape jam I've ever had. The smell of these grapes in the kitchen was so intense it almost seemed artificial. It's so so good, it even goes on the occasional grilled cheese.
I think I'm in love with home canned goods. I've been pretty busy so I haven't had a chance to preserve as much as I would have liked from this season. If anyone out there wants a jar of jam I'll be more than happy trade it for something delicious you've canned yourself.
The outboard finally slowed down. The fish finder, the active birds, "boiling water" and the strange faint smell of watermelon all pointed to a feeding frenzy. We dropped our lines and started reeling them in, they kept coming. We had all sorts of lines, rod and rigs out. I know we had some reels set up with lead line and jigs, you needed a glove to fish this one. I can't recall how many we caught on this particular trip but it seemed like a hell of a lot. Those bastard bluefish liked to fight too, they didn't come in easily. The blues weren't afraid to take one last look at you in the eye before trying to bite some of your flesh off while you're lazily removing a hook.
On the way back in to Wellfleet we went around the tip of Provincetown, I got to do some diving and swimming near some sand bars. Back to business at the pier as it was time to sell the days catch before stopping at the Beachcomber. They must have known a guy because I was way too young to be in there...Anyway I guess you can say I have a soft spot for the bastard so here it is.
Chippers and Blue: Old Blighty style fried bluefish, mixed rosemary oven chippers and a fresh corn & tomato salad.
Mixed rosemary oven chippers
- Sweet potatoes & baby new's tossed in olive oil, chopped fresh rosemary, sea salt and pepper roasted at 450 for a half hour. These are our new favorite chips or "chippers."
- 3 ears of corn, kernals sliced.
- 3 roma tomatoes diced.
- Quarter of an onion diced
- Chopped basil
- Toss with sea salt, pepper and olive oil and bring up to heat on the stovetop. You don't really want to cook this, I just wanted it warm with a nice "raw" bite.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup seltzer water (unshaken next time please...)
- 1 egg
- sea salt and pepper
- bluefish (or fish of choice)
Stir the batter up, get rid of those lumps. (It's probably not too late to turn this batter into pancakes.) The seltzer is suppose to give the crust a nice airy lift and a good bite which it did. Cut your FRESH bluefish into serving size pieces and dip into your batter before frying in medium high oil. The fish took around 8 minutes per side. When I'm frying battered fish I always cook by color. You're looking for a nice dark golden brown.
Plate & enjoy.
Have you seen the video yet?...
This is the first of hopefully many more video's to come for The Salted Cod. We're still working on a few things, but keep a look out for more.
You can also subscribe to our video feed on BLIP!
A big thanks to Oats for making our video dreams come true.
"Chippers and blue, chippers and blue!" God I couldn't stop saying that for a few days.
It turns out what was on hand was at least quality home grown ingredients. We had an abundance of tasty cherry tomatoes I used for this sauce in addition to field tomatoes and home grown oregano and basil.
Oven roasted pizzaiola sauce
2 large field tomatoes sliced
20 or more cherry tomatoes halved
half an onion sliced thin
3 garlic cloves crushed
1 small shallot diced
large handful of fresh oregano finely chopped
5 large basil leaves finely chopped
sea salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is heating lay out all of your tomatoes, onions & garlic on to a large baking sheet. Sprinkle your diced shallots and herbs on top of the tomatoes. Aggressively brush everything with plenty of olive oil. Season with sea salt & black pepper. Place the tray in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until everything is just starting to crisp up with a nice golden brown color. The kitchen should smell amazing at this point.
Transfer all of the roasted goodies into a food mill over a large bowl and grind away. Taste what you have, it's pretty good. Super fast sauce, tons of fresh flavor with oregano breaking through screaming at you for attention. This batch was just enough for 1 pound of pasta. We had a little oven roasted crispy kale as well with this.
Good for her, I want some more details...
Michael Pollan spoke to a full house, in a small, hot, sweaty hall at Public Farm 1 in Long Island City over the weekend. After waiting in line for close to an hour and being turned away as I was 2nd in line to the door I was furious. I took matters into my own hands and used alternate measures I'm not at liberty to discuss to gain access to this event.
Public Farm One is beautiful space, part art (moma), and part urban farm project. The roof top terrace is utterly gorgeous with sleek modern designed tubes housing plants. The farm project is 100% sustainable by use of solar energy and rain collection barrels for irrigation. There is even a small chicken coop tucked away built with recycled materials.
Michael Pollan's theme for this particular lecture was on taking the plant's perspective. He spoke of how grass wants to be cut; it wants more sun and more room to breathe. He spoke of the relationship between an orchid and a bee and how the bee thinks it is stealing the nectar. The plant is actually seducing the creature into the flower where pollen from the plant will attach itself to the leg hairs of the bee and thus the bee will do the work and pollinate the flowers.
Mr. Pollan touched base with some topics covered in The Omnivores Dilemma. He spoke of his time on Polyface Farm with Joel Salatin. He discussed farming methods used by Joel making his farm 100% solar & sustainable and beyond organic. Grass fed cattle are penned by easily moved electric fencing. The cattle eat the grass in this patch; the cattle are moved to another section of pasture. The "cowpies" are left behind to sit for three days before bringing in the chickens. Three days is just enough time to let the maggot grubs get nice and fat. The chickens have free range at their favorite food while also scratching and spreading manure around which in turn helps the grass and earth. Basically Michael was stating it's time for a change, we know how to do this, and Joel is leading the way.
The most exciting part of the evening actually came during the Q&A at the end of the evening. Michael announced that no he does not have another book in the works but he is taking it upon himself to write a manifesto to the next President of the United States declaring the food system needs to change. (see video below)
Get this guy in office already.
I was disappointed with the number of people that did walk out both during the lecture and during the q&a.
It was a great evening and I was more than excited to bear the heat and listen to Michal Pollan's gospel. This guy is motivation alone to change the way you look at what is on your plate.
I had close to a cup of left over ricotta from the stuffed zucchini blossom recipe and couldn't let it go to waste.
I made a quick deconstructed cannoli.
1 cup ricotta
~1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest for garnish
Tasted great like a lemony cannoli filling pudding, but would have worked much better with an anise wafer or something crunchy to complete the idea.
Maybe next time.
Sometimes it pays to be late. The vendors at the Union Square Greenmarket were packing up just as I arrived. I saw these zucchini flowers being tucked away and knew I had to act fast. I lucked out, the vendor gave me her 12 remaining flowers for $2.00 which is a great bargain. These lovely flowers are usually the highest price starters on most respectable menus.
I used The Fat Red Baron's (ahem, Batali) recipe for this. The Baron did suggest goat cheese ricotta which sounds delicious but, I opted for some fresh, local, farm house cow's milk ricotta instead.
12 zucchini flowers
1 cup ricotta
2 scallions (thinly sliced)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
sea salt & black pepper to taste
Mix thoroughly & get ready to stuff. Each flower took about 1 tablespoon of filling.
A second set of hands is suggested in stuffing these flowers. A pastry piping bag would have also done the trick. Be sure to inspect inside each flower for renegade insects that may be attracted to the sweet pollen.
These baby's were fried in OO on medium high heat and do need to be served immediately. A quick tomato salad was served along side, inspired by a dish had at Il Panino, created by the lovely & talented Marissa Iocco.
3 field tomatoes, rough dice
1 cucumber, half moons
1 tablespoon of capers
handful of fresh basil, cut chiffonade
juice of half a lemon
splash of unfiltered good GREEN olive oil
sea salt & black pepper to taste
Let the juices mingle at room temp in a nice bowl. After a few minutes you'll have some really intensely flavored red juice which I saved to drizzle over the hot zucchini flowers. I grilled the rosemary focaccia which was a most excellent choice to sop up the salad juice.
The stuffed zucchini flowers came out wonderfully. The flowers had nice caramelization with the cheese oozing out, making them really out of this world. We were popping these in our mouth like candy.
An excellent meal served on the balcony with some bubbly Chistalino, a Prosecco style rose wine.